Summer diaries: Taking myself on dates

Three weeks ago, my partner and I did something we haven’t done in months, we went on a date, outside. We went out at night and had dinner at a nice Thai restaurant on the posh side of town — something unusual after so many lockdowns and restrictions. Being outside, surrounded by other people and wearing clothes other than pyjamas reminded me of how much I love going on dates like going to the cinema, having dinner somewhere or just visiting a museum. I love all that, but I haven’t done any of these things since early 2020.

But I’ve also missed going out on my own for something other than running to Tesco to buy crisps during my period week. So that’s why I decided July would be the month I’d take myself on dates.

I kept my date schedule simple and affordable. I planned my dates for Saturdays and allowed a budget of £15 per date.

Date 1: Book browsing and reading in a cafe

I started with one of my favourite date activities: going book hunting, finding the perfect book and having a hot chocolate while reading at a cosy cafe.

Because I was on my own, instead of being accompanied by a reluctant boyfriend like that scene in Gilmore Girls, I had the freedom to spend 5 hours looking at books if I wanted, and that’s what I did.

I discovered a new independent bookshop in my town that I visited after the mandatory trip to Waterstones. I bought Matt Haig’s Notes on a Nervous Planet from the independent shop and went to read it in a nearby cafe.

This date was 4/5 for me. I had a nice time on my own, found a great book and had hot chocolate. What else does a girl need? I’m glad I found this new bookshop, I’ve gone back since my first visit and bought two more books.

Date 2: Picnic in the park

Picnics are supposed to be romantic or a family activity, but reading and eating in the park is something I like to do on my own. During the July heatwave, I spent most of the days sitting in the shade in my favourite park, cooling down with the fresh breeze. I love being surrounded by trees, it makes the weather more bearable.

I read the book Loveless by Alice Oseman, which follows a university student who discovers she’s asexual. This was my first time reading a book on asexuality, and I’m glad I did. I learned a lot about this usually overlooked group. However, I wish I had read this book when I was younger, as it felt too YA for my taste.

Overall, this date was 3/5 because after a while, it started feeling like a regular Saturday afternoon instead of a date.

Date 3: Immersive Museum Experience

This is an activity that a year ago I would’ve never done on my own. I would’ve either tried to find someone to go with me or not gone at all. But I’m starting to realise that life is just spending a lot of time on your own with the occasional interaction with other people, and it’s about time I go to places I want to go instead of waiting for someone else to go with me.

I visited the Van Gogh immersive exhibition, which is located inside a gothic church because everything in my town seems to be in or next to a 16th-century cemetery. The exhibition explored Van Gogh’s life and art, combined with a sound and light show projecting his work all over the church. It was very cool to see, and it reminded me how much I love his art.

This last date was 4/5. The exhibition felt more like an experience for groups, as I was the only person there on my own. But it also felt like a great place for a date, and I had fun doing something a bit different.

I enjoyed taking myself on dates and will do it more often, especially now that the weather is nice and most people are away on holiday, and the centre isn’t that crowded.

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